Monday, August 28, 2017

Travels with a DKW

On Sunday 23rd September Shelly and I participated in the Bay to Birdwood Classic rally in Adelaide, South Australia, in our DKW. Because we had other commitments in Melbourne, Victoria, at the end of August we decided we would ship our DKW to Melbourne and take a leisurely drive on to Adelaide. This saved us flying to Melbourne and back, and then Adelaide and back, but it did mean we had to rush some of our pre-trip preparations. I had a long list of jobs that needed to be done to the DKW and only two odd weeks to get them all done. The most important item was refitting a NOS exhaust that I'd acquired. I'd replaced the old exhaust some months earlier as it was entirely rotten with a sports exhaust, but the noise the new exhaust made along with the vibrations it caused would have made driving the car for long distances almost unbearable. I was lucky to find a NOS original exhaust in Germany, as they are hard to come by these days. The improvement in performance that came with the new exhaust was amazing, gaining us an additional 10kph as well as substantially reducing engine noise. I also had our leaking windscreen resealed (it leaked like a sieve), but unfortunately I didn't have time to the petrol gauge fixed or have the radiator overhauled. That decision would ultimately come back to bite us.

We shipped the car to Melbourne through Rand Logistics. Rand specialize in refrigerated transport but because the transport primarily flows from east to west, many trucks returning from Western Australia go back empty. Consequently Rand are able to offer very competitive rates on west to east vehicle transport. It was an easy process and their service was very good.

Our first Melbourne port of call was a catch up with Peter Thorogood, President of the Historic German Vehicle Register of Australia in the Dandenong's. Peter showed us his fine collection of NSU's and his Peugeot 202 project. Peter's NSU TT Sports had just won the best 'Other' marque in the German Auto Fest.

After a quick detour through St Kilda we set off for the Mornington Peninsula. We took the Mornington Peninsula freeway and generally managed to keep up with the modern traffic. It took us a little over two hours to reached Dromana. By the time we arrived the weather had really turned nasty and we were being pounded by freezing, driving rain which our pitiful 6 volt wipers struggled to cope with.

Dark clouds rolling in on the colourful beach shacks

Still blue skies to the south

We stayed that night in Stella's Hotel on the Nepean Road and ate at Two Bouys Tapas and Wine Bar. The food there was absolutely outstanding, as was the wine. Highly recommended!

The next day we ventured up Arthur's Seat to visit Charlie's Motor Museum. The drive up the mountain was very winding and steep - too steep for our poor little DKW which overheated and stalled about 500 metres from the summit. DKW used to advertise that DKW "Goes up mountains like others go down!" but that was clearly advertising hyperbole. Performance quickly sags and you need to rapidly drop down a gear to maintain revs. Perth, where we live, is generally flat so we never really need to worry hills. We learned a lot about hill driving on this trip.

After a short stop to cool down we started up again and crawled the last section in first gear. Fortunately for us the road was virtually deserted so we didn't inconvenience anyone.

We arrived at Charlie's Museum to find we were the first visitors that morning. Charlie's is a very interesting museum with a fine collection of unusual vehicles. There is a good collection of microcars, Eastern Bloc cars as well as a selection of Studebakers. We had an good chat with Charlie who was interested in acquiring the DKW for the museum. Here are more photos from our visit -

DKW's cousin, the East German Wartburg 311 and an Australian Goggomobil Dart. Both cars are two-stroke engined. The Wartburg has a 900cc engine virtually identical to the DKW 3=6. Both engines were reverse engineered from the 1940 F9 engine. Of all the cars in the collection the Wartburg was probably my favourite.

Goggomobil TS300 and a Royal Mail delivery tricycle.

1963 Studebaker Avanti (front) and a 1990 Avanti, a modernized replica built using the original body moulds and tooling. The Avanti was produced through to 2006.  

One of the three Tatras at Charlies is this magnificent T603 which has pride of place in the centre of the museum. A T613 is displayed in the second shed and there is a Tatraplan in a storage shed. Charlie advised he wasn't a fan of the Tatraplan's looks! I'll write up a post about Charlie's Auto Museum later.

For the next couple of days we cruised around Mornington enjoying the wineries and restaurants. We can definitely recommend lunch at Port Phillip Estate Winery. At first sight the winery is a confronting piece of modernist architecture that looks about as appealing as the Nazi's Atlantic Wall. It leaves you scratching your head how they ever obtained planning approval for this, but then you step through the doors you are struck by a stunning view. It's very clever.

The food and wine are outstanding too. A highlight of the district.

The weather however was not our friend and after three days of continuous rain our poor little wiper motor decided it had enough and died. Luckily for us the rain eased off enough for the rest of the holiday for us to continue driving unhindered. On the winding roads of Mornington we appreciated the DKWs legendary road holding. The car could hurtle around tight bends with confidence while coasting downhill in freewheel. It was a real driving pleasure.

Nevertheless, after overheating on the Arthur's Seat hill climb I noticed the radiator had sprung a coolant leak. It was only a slow drip so I added a bottle of stop leak and I monitored the water temperature closely.

We drove on down to Sorrento and Portsea at the end of the peninsula. Sorrento was a lovely town, but very quiet due to the unseasonably cold weather. We enjoyed the famous vanilla slice from Just Fine Food. Places that make claims like 'the best' something or other usually don't live up to the hype, but Just Fine Food were quite right about serving the best vanilla slice. It was amazing so we bought another for the road.

A colonnade of pines frame the road from Portsea to Fort Nepean

Point Nepean looking across Port Phillip Bay towards Geelong.

On the ferry to Geelong.

From Mornington we drove to Geelong where caught up with DKW owner Murray, who'd recently salvaged a rare 1958 DKW Universal from a famous hoard of cars in NSW. Murray specializes in Volkswagens, classic two-stroke Saabs and other classics. 

The Universal is in pretty rough condition, but it is all there. Universals are very rare these days so it's worth the effort to save it.

The car was originally diamond blue, same as our car.

At the top of the Great Ocean Road at Bellbrae make sure you check out the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie. It's a vast chocolate lovers paradise. If you're planning on driving The Road, stop in and fill up!

Driving west we joined The Great Ocean Road along the south coast of Victoria. The Great Ocean Road is truly one of the world's great scenic drives. The weather was very changeable however; swinging from sunny and warm to icy, howling wind and rain. Although the DKW did not like the hills it handled the tight corners exceptionally well.

Expect Minor Delays if you are driving behind a 1959 DKW

There were lots of turnouts on the route to let cars overtake while we enjoyed the view

The view without wipers

Otway National Park

Cape Otway Lighthouse at the southernmost point of the Great Ocean Road

The coast at Cape Otway

The bucolic landscape around Johanna

THE highlight of the Great Ocean Road is of course the Twelve Apostles. There are a few less apostles these days as the great pinnacles of soft sandstone erode rapidly into the sea. We arrived as the sun was setting, which I think is probably the best time to view.

London Bridge at the Twelve Apostles. The bridge was a double arch that was connected to the mainland only a few years ago but the first arch collapsed in dramatic fashion stranding a group of tourists on the newly formed island. They were lucky that they had just crossed the arch when it gave way without warning. The group had to be rescued by helicopter. The sandstone of the cliffs is very soft and friable, crumbling to sand easily. Consequently the entire coastline is fenced off and marked with warnings not to venture off the path. People still do however without recognizing the extreme danger they are placing themselves in.

The entire coastline of this area is marked by dramatic cliffs

Natural bridge

Bay of Islands

The lovely town of Port Fairy

View over Portland. Our last overnight stop in Victoria.

The morning packing ritual. When correctly arranged the DKW actually carries a lot of luggage. We carried two large suitcases, souvenirs, supplies and all the usual automotive spares,such as two-stroke oil, lubricants, etc.

We paid a quick visit to the Portland Car Museum.

Portland was a small museum supported by the local vintage car club.

Early Mazda and Messerschmitt

Portland still has an operating cable car that takes tourists around the heritage centre of town. The museum has a restored example.

Unrestored Ariel motorcycle.

And we will stop here and pick up in part two - South Australia.

And the Bay to Birdwood rally -